Ads in Games, is it just the Beginning?


Let's face it, ads are here to stay, and they're only going to get more pervasive as time goes on. You can't watch a sporting event without being bombarded by product logos and slogans in the background, nor can you can make it through a day at Disneyland without learning which companies are sponsering which rides (I really feel immersed knowing that Star Tours is presented by Energizer...).More recently, gamers have bemoaned the inclusion of ads in videogames, fearing that instead of adding to the realsim, they'll eventually become obvious distractions. So far the fears have been mostly unfounded, but it's early yet.

Now comes the announcement from Microsoft that they're going to offer an advertising supported verion of Works, the productivity suite that no one uses. This one has me scratching my head. While I can understand the mounting pressure to respond to competition from Google's Google Docs , has MS completely forgotten about OpenOffice ? This isn't an online productivity suite they're offering, and I don't see being forced to view ads as a successful business model when alternatives exist without such annoyances.

But what really has me (mildly) concerned is the unlikely prospect that this somehow ends up making fiscal sense. Force feeding ads in exchange for free content didn't work for NetZero, but if it works for software, this could be just the beginning. Imagine loading up Windows Vienna presented by Windex, or Internet Explorer presented by Ford. And then watch as Mozilla's market share goes through the roof...

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